Puri – პური (Georgian Bread)
Georgian food starts with bread. Bread is an essential component
of the meal. Georgian bread is special. Georgian bread is baked in traditional bread baking ovens called tones. Tones are made of clay and look like the top half of clay pots. A fire burns at the bottom which heats up the sides of the oven. The bread dough is sectioned off and slapped onto the side walls of the oven to bake, turning brown and bubbly. Shotis puri (შოთის პური) is the most recognizable of the Georgia breads because of its oblong shape with pointy ends.
Khinkali – ხინკალი (Soup Dumplings)
Khinkali are what you eat when you’re looking for a cheap, casual meal or a hangover cure. Khinkali are somewhat similar to xiaolongbao, or Chinese soup dumplings, but there are differences too. Khinkali are made with flour dumpling wrappers. They are folded in such a way that they have little dough handles at the top. To eat khinkali, hold the dumpling by the handle, flip it bottom side up, and take a small bite out of the dough just large enough to slurp the soup before devouring the rest of the dumpling. The handles aren’t meant to be eaten, though we were told that caused quite a problem during the Russian occupation as the Russians thought this was wasteful and prohibited the import of flour, which meant a lot of sad Georgians with no khinkali. While in China you enhance the flavor of soup dumplings with vinegar; in Georgia you douse them with a lot of black pepper. If your dumplings get cold because you are eating too slow or talking too much, you can ask the waiter to have them reheated and they won’t think less of you for it.
Churchkhela – ჩურჩხელა
If you watched The Amazing Race this season, then you’ve seen churchkhela. One of the challenges involved teams making churchkhela, a popular Georgian candy. Toasted nuts, walnuts in the east and hazelnuts in the west, are strung on a string and dipped into a flour, sugar, and grape juice mixture. The result is a reddish or brownish sausage-shaped candy with a pointy end.